Ansgar and Zacharias were too young for World War I and too old for World War II. They were Danish, but moved to Finland. In Search of A Revolution by Fischer and Lawlor follows them through the turmoil in Europe between the two great wars and through WWII.
The Scandinavian view of Europe is presented as a mixture of neutral aloofness, intellectual curiosity, terror. The attack Russians attack Finland and the Germans attack Denmark, but most of the time Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland are above the fray.
Zacharias came from a upper/middle class family, and politically tended towards communism, while Ansgar came from the working class, so tended to conservatives and fascists. As a couple of guys generally one step removed from war, they were able to accept each other, and Russian domination of the continental Baltic states, and German persecutioin of the Jews.
As time went by, they equalted the German and the Russians as a pair of evils, so as WWII progressed they had little care for either side. If they represented intellectual apathy, they demonstrated the same disinterest in their personal lives, avoiding committed relationships with either their families or the women they met, lived with, or married.
I found this to be an interesting view of Europe 1918 to 1948 from a novel point of view. However, I found the two men and the two countries to be so novel as to be difficult to identify with and maintain interest in.
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5 weeks ago